Plymouth Whitemarsh High School Orchestra’s Spring Virtual Concert Highlights the Power of Music and Partnerships

Inspired by the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “Our City, Your Orchestra” video series, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School orchestra members have created their own video in which they perform while also highlighting the work of Laurel House, a Norristown-based non-profit serving those affected by domestic abuse.

The students, along with Orchestra Director Elise Derewitz, are hoping their video inspires people to donate to Laurel House while also calling attention to domestic abuse and relationship issues that can affect young people. The students set up a GoFundMe page for Laurel House and also spent time interviewing Laurel House’s Community Education Coordinator, Lydia Lynes, about the organization, its purpose, how COVID-19 has affected Laurel House’s work, and what young people should know about relationships.

Those interviews have been woven into the orchestra’s spring concert video, which will air on the district’s cable channel, CITV, at 7 p.m. on April 14 and 16, and is also available online for anytime viewing through this link:

The idea for this unique spring concert video came out of the 11th and 12th grade orchestra students watching the “Our City, Your Orchestra” video series produced by the Philadelphia Orchestra. In the series, orchestra members are recorded playing in small ensembles throughout the city as a way to highlight city businesses, cultural organizations or institutions. It was the city orchestra’s piece with Project Home that got Mrs. Derewitz and her students thinking about how they could replicate the idea closer to home. The students selected Laurel House as the organization they wanted to feature, since some of them were already familiar with it through other service work. 

Mrs. Derewitz reached out to Ms. Lynes to start the conversation and the project came together smoothly. Ms. Lynes visited virtually with students via Zoom to discuss Laurel House’s mission and provided some education for students about healthy relationships. Students came up with questions to ask Ms. Lynes for the interview portion of their video, and also picked the music to perform and began rehearsing. 

The project ended up being a positive way to bring together music students who have been apart much of this year, due to the pandemic. Students had two after-school rehearsals to perform, were filmed by the high school’s Media Production Club, which also assisted with editing the performances and the interviews together to produce the final video.While the video is meant to help raise funds and provide information about Laurel House, Mrs. Derewitz is hoping its impact goes even further.

“I just hope we can reach some of the students through this video who might not otherwise speak up about issues they may be having,” said Mrs. Derewitz. “I’m hoping we can raise awareness in that way, too.”

Anyone experiencing an abusive relationship can talk to a Laurel House advocate today by calling the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-642-3150 or texting “HOPE” to 85511. To donate, go to:

This article was submitted by the Colonial School District.